- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports13 hrs ago
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The words, like the game, seem easy enough for Mike Trout. Here, on the eve of his first playoff game, they were the same as they were when he arrived in the big leagues, then as he embarked on his first full season, and then when he was asked if he possibly could duplicate that, and when he went off to play in his first All-Star Game.
He’s gonna play his game. He’s gonna have fun. He’ll live with what comes.
Days before, his idol, Derek Jeter, had retired, and the word around baseball was Trout, at 23 years old, had next. Hours before, George Brett – the George Brett – had sat in the other dugout, right over there, and said, “I think he’s probably the best player in the game.”
If that kind of stuff registers with Trout, you’d have to read it in his shrug, in his lazy smile or in the way he instinctively studies his shoe tops. A man does not carry himself on a ball field the way Trout does, however, if being next, being the best, had not already occurred to him.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports1 day ago
SAN FRANCISCO – I find myself staring at Hunter Pence, and I’m not ashamed. Maybe a little. So, hey, just between us.
He’s hanging over the dugout rail, eyes wide and deep and unblinking. Please blink. He’s in the on-deck circle, preparing, by the looks of his routine, to slow dance with a turnstile. He’s in the batter’s box, “Endless Love” presumably in his head, then conveying himself – “running” isn’t quite right – to first base, a three-legged buck fleeing a forest fire. He’s in right field, loose and limber, composed, and then the ball flies and, oh hell, the forest is on fire again.
You’ve got one ballplayer to watch from batting practice to lights out. Just one of 18. One of any of ’em, anywhere. Give me Hunter Pence, because he doesn’t simply look different than anyone, he plays different than most.
It’s Pence. He’s wearing headphones around his neck. His hair is swept up in a black headband and sprouting over the top like the furry end of a broccoli stalk. His black T-shirt bears a photo of teammate Mike Morse wielding a light saber and his baseball pants are rolled above his knees. Add a couple side pockets, they may as well be cargo shorts.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
At the end of a news conference that was a little sad without being maudlin, that was kind of funny without being disrespectful, Ron Gardenhire stood up, said, "Folks, take care. See you down the road," and walked away, past the Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett posters.
There are few sights in baseball more sobering than a manager in his civilian clothes 24 hours after his final game, particularly when he is sitting beside his general manager, and particularly when the game is over after 13 seasons.
No, the Minnesota Twins weren't very good again, and it turns out that neither the commitment to Joe Mauer nor the opening of the new ballpark was ever going to save them. At the end of four seasons of at least 92 losses, GM Terry Ryan fired Gardenhire, a man who'd once won six division titles, who'd five times won at least 90 games, and who'd spent a lot of time in recent seasons thinking up new recipes for chicken salad. Gardenhire is not, and was never, the problem in Minnesota, and Ryan almost certainly grasps that, and yet a relationship does run its course.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
Of the many possibilities, only one ballclub played Sunday afternoon to avoid elimination. And so it was that Felix Hernandez lifted his arms to the people of Safeco Field, and bowed to them, and held his hands to his heart. The Seattle Mariners were knocked out by a final score from some 1,700 miles away, after 161½ games, and it was Hernandez who said the thank yous, and the goodbyes.
The Mariners were out. Ten others were in. And chaos is overrated, unless you happen to regularly outfit yourself in northwest green and, every fifth day, a bedazzled paper crown.
A hit from Derek Jeter, a wave from Paul Konerko, a no-hitter from Jordan Zimmermann, a batting title from Jose Altuve, an aborted warm-up routine from Adam Wainwright, and the final Sunday of baseball's regular season ended pretty much as it began.
Oh, there was potential. There was drama. There were tears and celebration, regret and relief, trembling hands and promises for better. And that was just on the Oakland A's bus to the ballpark.
And, yet, by late afternoon, the teams that were ahead stayed ahead, and the teams that were so teasingly close behind stayed there, too.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
In the end, or three days from it, very little about the Arizona Diamondbacks was worth saving.
Not the general manager, who was fired – reassigned, whatever – three weeks ago.
And, as of Friday, not the field manager or his first assistant, either.
Hours after Dave Stewart was named to replace departed general manager Kevin Towers, the club announced it had fired manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell. That announcement came 15 minutes before the news conference that would formally introduce Stewart.
So Tony La Russa's top-down cleansing of the baseball department, a project undertaken when he became the club's chief baseball officer in May, is at full gallop. La Russa, Stewart and just-hired baseball operations head De Jon Watson, who represent the Diamondbacks' fresh course, will hire the new manager, who will lead the men – new or otherwise – chosen for that course, and that's a lot of moving parts.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
On the trouble stockpiling Curly W’s, Clint Hurdle’s poker face and what’s left of the rotation in San Francisco:
The rankings (records through Wednesday):
1. Los Angeles Angels (98-61; Previous: 1) – To combat injuries, Hamilton gets a dozen shots. Feels a little better, but, dang, leaking like a sieve.
2. Baltimore Orioles (95-63; Previous: 2) – Debate over benefits of Adderall ends when Chris Davis lifts pickup truck.
3. Washington Nationals (92-64; Previous: 3) – Nats use up all the Curly W’s, postseason plan is for Shemp W’s.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-68; Previous: 4) – Prospect Joc Pederson makes Wrigleyville coffee run, reminds rookies they will not be handed a big-league job, but must urn it.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (88-71; Previous: 6) – Lackey said to be unhappy about extra rest in regular season’s final week, because, well, he’s happiest when he’s unhappy.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (86-72; Previous: 11) – Hurdle won’t gamble with bullpen, knows when to Holdzkom.
7. Detroit Tigers (88-70; Previous: 9) – Ausmus dials bullpen number, gets FEMA hotline.Thu, Oct 26:07 PM PDTKansas City at LA AngelsPreview Game
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
LOS ANGELES – They fell into each other's arms, the peeved with the merry, the indignant with the content, and the outraged with the oblivious, the Los Angeles Dodgers together again.
Randy Newman sang and bubbles floated, as this wickedly talented, somewhat peculiar, occasionally combustible and delightfully entertaining ballclub assured itself a regular-season finish on its feet.
The Dodgers are NL West champions again, the last of it decided Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, where they buried the San Francisco Giants 9-1. (The Giants remained on the verge of the NL wild-card game.)
They departed the meaningful portion of their regular season as they started it, with Clayton Kershaw leading them. He left with his 21st win in 27 starts, with a 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 198 1/3 innings, with fifty-some-thousand people chanting – predicting – "M-V-P! M-V-P!", honoring one of the astounding seasons of this generation.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
LOS ANGELES – Matt Kemp turned 30 on Tuesday, 30 being the age in which one relinquishes the ease and alibis of youth.
So long, phenom. See ya later, impulsiveness. And yeah, goodbye, legs.
At 30, one is expected to have some things figured out. It's not mandatory or anything, but that first number rolls over and the rest of the world inquires, "OK, so, whatcha got?"
Kemp arrived in Los Angeles at 21, all oversized feet and hands, and he was good. Then he dated that singer. Then he was great. Then he was rich. Then he started running into things. And then nobody knew what to think, 'cuz he seemed mad a lot, and maybe that was all the rumors he'd be traded – or should be traded – because, they said, he'd never be great again. Then he wasn't a center fielder anymore, and that didn't appear to sit very well, and he seemed even madder, and there arose a not unreasonable question about whether Matt Kemp could ever truly be happy again – or productive again, or healthy again – in Los Angeles, as a Dodger.
There you go, almost nine years in a single paragraph.
"Time goes by fast, man," he said.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
The Atlanta Braves were more stable. They were more patient and calculated. Often, they were smarter.
But, mostly, they won. Not in the end, perhaps. But, for the better part of a generation, they won.
So when it became official Sunday with their 79th loss they would not play in October, these Braves undone by a pitiful offense, past personnel decisions and the maturation of the Washington Nationals, there came a fair question: Who are the Braves now? And another: What are the Braves becoming?
While that may not be presently clear, the Braves on Monday morning decided what they are not: They fired general manager Frank Wren and his director of player development, Bruce Manno.
John Hart, the former major league general manager and for the past year a senior adviser to Wren and team president John Schuerholz, is interim GM. Schuerholz, Hart and former manager Bobby Cox will choose Wren's permanent replacement. (As for Hart's candidacy, Hart himself talked around the possibility and Schuerholz said, "It is not a completely closed or open door.")
- Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Robinson Cano was sitting at a small round table in the clubhouse here Wednesday afternoon. With nothing else to do with his hands, he shuffled a deck of cards. Then he shuffled them again. And again. By appearances, he did not intend to play cards. There was no one around, really, to play cards with. So he shuffled the cards and stared at the deck, then at the clock, then back at the deck, filling the time.
With 11 games remaining in his first season with the Seattle Mariners, a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 or a playoff appearance since 2001, Cano has been a productive player and a willing leader; by accounts, a good company man in every way. As a result, the Mariners will have a winning season. They just might return to the postseason. Neither happens without a keenly talented pitching staff. But neither does it happen without Cano.